A CRETAN PRE-WEDDING PARTY (Κρητικό προγαμήλιο γλέντι)

Here is what was served at a ‘before wedding’ party which was held in Karanou. The party was given by the groom’s family one week before the son got married. The wedding ceremony and the after wedding party (gr. glenti) were given at Athens.
The groom’s family is wealthy and the party was really crowdy, around 1000 people.
The food was the traditional for the weddings in the region of Chania.

When we arrived the ‘snacks’ were out: groundnuts, xerotigana (fragile fried pastry sweets coated with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds);

xerotigana

semi-sweet bread and rusks;

graviera cheese and honey;

 cheese-and-honey

They symbolize the sweetness of marriage and wish the couple good luck and fertility.

To drink: raki, Coca cola,  the local soft drinks: gazoza and lemonada, beer and red wine for the main course.

First course:

small pies stuffed with greens (kalitsounia), olive oils preserved in lemon juice, slices of tomatoes and cucumbers, fried lamb liver.

first-course

Main course:

boiled goat, kid goat and lamb;

very hot pilafi (medium grain white rice cooked in animals’ broth) sprinkled with white pepper and served with homemade strained yogurt (rice also symbolizes fertility and prosperity);

pilafi

 tourta (pie stuffed with lamb and myzithra, the local fresh white cheese);

tourta1

 baked kid goat and potatoes;

baked-baby-goat-and-potatoes

 tomato and cucumber salad;

and the roasted lamb heads were also so good!

 Then fruits and ice cream.

Then dances. According to tradition the bride’s family danced first, followed by the family of the groom, then friends of the bride and friends of the groom. When these dances were over, men and women begun to come up to the stage to dance or joined in the chorus of a song. At weddings and celebrations Cretans often shoot in the air with their guns. This marriage was not the exception.
Accidents from stray bullets have become so common that many musicians refuse to play in certain areas. The endemic gun- ownership and shooting is traditionally regarded as part of Cretan culture and pride and remains widespread on the island though it is an expensive and dangerous habit. Today Crete has the highest ratio of guns per head in the European Union.

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6 thoughts on “A CRETAN PRE-WEDDING PARTY (Κρητικό προγαμήλιο γλέντι)

  1. If this feast was just for the pre-wedding, I can’t imagine what the wedding banquet itself was like! The tourta looks delicious and I’m intrigued by the roasted lamb heads. Although I completely respect traditions and customs, shooting off guns doesn’t seem to be worth the risks it poses to bystanders.

  2. #Traditional Cretan wedding feasts are always huge, with plenty of meat, pilafi and many other accompaniments.
    #Lamb’s eyes, tongue and cheeks are considered great delicacies.
    #Though, guns are virtually banned in Greece unless you are a member of a shooting sportsman’s club or a hunters’ association, many Cretans own illegally guns, especially in mountainous areas, using them at weddings and other celebrations. And yes, gun shooting is a dangerous custom, especially if guns are in the hands of drunk men.

  3. when i first came to greece, i couldnt stand the gunshot tradition – thankfully, things are more subdued two decades later, but such traditions will probably never die out altogether

  4. ‘Malus usus abolendus est’ = bad customs should be abolished. (Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England).

  5. My fiance is from Crete & we will be getting married there in 2012! He wants to include the gun shooting tradition at our wedding but I have to say it worries me a great deal! Also, I am a vegetarian which is another dilema that concerns me! As I am not religious we have decided to have a beach ceremony but it does worry me about how many of the traditions we will still be able to include…if any one has any information or advice that they can offer me, I would be extremely grateful! As it is at the moment, I have absolutely no idea how to start planning this wedding at all! 🙂

  6. Rebecca,gun shooting should worry your fiance as well. 10 deaths and 300 injuries from shooting accidents have been recorded by the police on Crete in the last decade.

    # A beach wedding is the ultimate in pure romance and it doesn’t mean you have to forego the traditional Cretan wedding niceties.

    #Though younger Cretans follow modern wedding styles, some traditions and ceremonies remain:
    a)The wedding – bed ceremony. A night or two before the wedding the marital bed is made up by unmarried girls and adorned with rose petals and sugared almond (koufeta). The friends and relatives throw jewels and money onto the bed and a child is rolled over it for luck fertility.
    b)Boubounieres. Sugar coated almonds are wrapped in lace and ribbon and offered to all the guests. The sugar coated almonds are symbols of purity, fertility, prosperity and long life.
    c)One of the things a traditional Cretan wedding includes is the wedding breads. These breads, which are adorned with ornaments of baked dough, are given as gifts to the guests. The most gorgeous of them are given to the best men. The wedding breads are symbols of the sweetness and love of the common life of the young couple.
    d)Xerotigana (Western Crete). Fried pastry ribbons coated with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
    e)Graviera cheese and honey.
    f)A lot of music and dance.

    #Though the traditional Cretan wedding menu is based on meat, there is a plethora of meat-free foods to choose from. Dakos (chopped tomato and xinomyzithra, a local soft, white cheese, sprinkled with oregano and sitting atop a barley rusk that has been moistened with a little water and virgin olive oil), kalitsounia or other kind of small cheese or /and green pies, grape leaves dolmathes, seafood, a huge array of vegetable dishes, rice if you will follow the traditions of Western Crete and spaggeti for the Eastern part of island etc.

    And if you need any help feel free to get in touch.

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